Diversifying Representation: Using Influencers to Amplify Underrepresented Voices in Publishing

April 30, 2024
Ingram Associate
Diversifying Representation: Using Influencers to Amplify Underrepresented Voices in Publishing

Diversify representation is extremely important in the book industry. Unfortunately, diversification has been slow, despite efforts to change and be an inclusive industry. While diversity might be at an all-time high for the industry, the stats are still dismal at best. In fact, a recent study shows that employment in the industry is still 72.5% white, which is only a slight improvement from the 79% figure back in 2015.

It's not just racial diversity that's a concern, either. The LGBTQA+ community is also underrepresented as well as neurodiversity and even socioeconomic diversity. Readers represent a vibrant, diverse spectrum of demographics and want books that reflect who they are and what communities they represent.

While there are lots of different strategies that can be used to help increase the visibility of these groups in book industry, one that’s often not utilized is influencer marketing.

Identifying Underrepresented Voices

Before you start looking for influencers to assist in bringing in underrepresented voices, you need to understand the specific gaps in representation. That helps ensure that you're reaching out to the right people to truly make a difference. There's often a lot of nuances to getting the best influencer for a group you're not part of, and you don't want to start off on the wrong foot when you're trying to help.

Since the book industry is primarily white, the logical jump is to simply look for non-white communities and niches when considering influencers. However, it's not as simple as that. You'll want to research diverse communities and groups to get a better understanding of which ones need the support, and are also interested moving diversity forward in the book industry. Then, you can have a shortlist of underrepresented communities as a starting point for your influencer search.

Selecting Influencers From Underrepresented Groups

Once you've found the groups you want to reach out to, so you can amplify their voices in the book and publishing world, you need to select influencers in those groups. When it’s time to reach out, be mindful. It’s possible your invitation won’t be well-received because you’re not part of the group. It's all too easy to make missteps surrounding culture, language, and other details, even when your intentions are good.

To select your influencers, you can use hashtags to narrow down groups, research who's popular with specific demographics, and follow them to see what they're consistently offering. Some influencers might be very popular with groups you're trying to reach, but they won't necessarily be the right fit for what you're trying to achieve. Continue to narrow your search until you find influencers with a good following and the kind of content that fits with your goals for reaching out to their audience.

Crafting Collaborative Content

The content you and the influencer create should be something both of you feel good about. They're going to know what their audience will respond to, and you'll know the overall message you want to get out that audience. Blending those areas could take some time, depending on how familiar you are with the group you're trying to reach.

When you choose content strategies that amplify the diversity of the group's voices, you want to make sure that authenticity and cultural sensitivity are both being considered. That's why it's so important to collaborate with trusted influencers you feel good about and comfortable with. If you have a message to get out to a group you're not part of, a respected voice within that group can help you adjust your message to be received as well as possible. That can really improve the value of what you're trying to do for everyone involved. Make sure to be open to feedback during this part of the process to make the most of your partnership.

Amplifying Impact  

While getting a few messages and statements out to diverse groups can be a great start, there's more than needs to be done. Different books have different target audiences and will resonate differently with various groups. What works for one book or even several books might not work well for others.

This is where multiple campaigns with multiple influencers can really help compound your diversity efforts and get various voices in various demographics heard. Creating multiple campaigns gives you an ongoing opportunity to work with trusted voices in their specific space, so you can reach more people and help them understand your message.

Then, you can measure the impact of your diversity-focused initiatives and see whether the people you're trying to reach are starting to interact with you and your titles. Like any marketing campaign, monitoring these results and metrics will help determine if your efforts, message, and influencer are working and helping move your diversity efforts forward.

The more you continue to develop campaigns related to diversity to the book industry, the more people from underrepresented and diverse groups will start paying attention. Over time, that will continue to change the racial and demographic makeup of publishing. It might not happen as quickly as many people would like, but that's better than not having it happen at all.

The Importance and Value of Industry Diversity

Diversity in the book industry is extremely important. A wave of change is coming (and is already underway), but those changes have been slow to show real progress. Speeding up those changes will have a huge impact on the industry, as readers are able to easily find books that reflect who they are in the characters and pages. After all, readers crave something that resonates with them and fits how they see the world.

Using influencers isn’t going to solve everything, but it can be one tool in a larger strategy to help address the diversity issues in the book industry. Readers represent a vibrant, diverse spectrum of demographics and want, and should have access to, readily available books that reflect that. Using influencers to reach underrepresented groups and amplify their voices in the publishing world has the power to change and improve the industry for everyone.

Diversifying Representation: Using Influencers to Amplify Underrepresented Voices in Publishing
Ingram Associate

Ingram Associate

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